MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman says he has ideas to change the process through which deadly police shootings are handled in Minnesota. One of them is releasing video related to a shooting sooner, or 45 days at the latest.
Freeman’s ideas were made public Wednesday in a press release from his office. Over the weekend, he addressed a working group on police shootings, which is made up of 16 members and co-chaired by Minnesota Attorney General Keith Ellison.
The working group, which is composed of community activists, law enforcement officers and public servants, met for the first time on Saturday, and the meeting was interrupted by protesters, demanding several things, among them more representation from the families of people killed in officer-involved shootings.
Still, Freeman addressed the working group and recommended nine changes to the way officials in Minnesota respond to officer-involved shootings. As Hennepin County Attorney, he dealt with several high-profile shootings, including those of Jamar Clark in 2015 and Justine Ruszczyk Damond in 2017.
His nine recommended changes were:
– That a grand jury not be used to decide on whether or not to charge an officer. Instead, the county attorney should be tasked with making that decision. (Freeman’s own office implemented this policy in 2016.)
— That the officer involved in a fatal shooting should not be investigated by their own department. Instead, an independent state agency should conduct the investigation.
— That Minnesota lawmakers should pass a law similar to one in California, which calls for video related to a police shooting to be released as soon as possible but no later than 45 days from the incident.
— That lawmakers should clarify the statutes outlining when officers can use deadly force. This, he argues, would promote “fairness and consistency” in how such cases are handled in court and help to better train officers.
— That investigations must be thorough and as complete as possible, with all evidence being made public as soon as the case is concluded.
— That families of the victims should be kept up-to-date on the investigation’s status.
According to the press release from his office, Freeman told the working group that he would be open to a conversation about having a new independent agency investigate officer-involved shootings and come to a conclusion about charges.
Currently, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension investigates the shootings and turns its findings over to the relevant county attorney’s office.
The activists that protested the working group over the weekend demanded something similar.